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Beach of the Dead Book Club Discussion Questions

1. Was murdering her lover the best thing she’d ever done for herself?

2. Is murder in self defense forgivable? Justifiable?

3. If so, what would justice look like in such a case?

4. Jane murders Johnny not for herself, but for Jenny. Why is Jenny so implicated in this murder?

5. Why is Alex so sympathetic to Jane? Why is he so honest with her?

6. Why does the author put gay men and lesbians at the center of this story? What is she trying to convey about our society, our politics, our moral lives?

7. What is magical realism? Pick out some nods to magical realism in this novel.

8. What does “the only way out is through” mean in general – and mean in particular for Jane/Ana?

9. Is it ever okay to live a life based on lies as Jane/Ana does for a time? After all, the days she spends as Ana are the best in her life.

10. Who is the hero/heroine of this story and why?

11. What role does nature play in this story? Why is Jose’s transformation in attitude about nature important and where does it come from?

12. Can a person lead an ethical/moral life if who they are is declared illegal, such as is true of the gay men and lesbians in this story? Why
or why not? What implications does declaring some people illegal have for those people and for the rest of us?

13. What elements of Jane/Ana’s character can you most relate to, and why?

14. Why can Jane/Ana feel close to some of the Mexican and Zapotec characters despite the huge cultural differences between them?

15. What does Santa Juanita (the turtle) symbolize in this story?

16. Did you like the epilogue? Why or why not?

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